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Variability in accumulation rates from GPR profiling on the West Antarctic plateau

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Isochronal layers in firn detected with ground-penetrating radar (GPR) and dated using results from ice-core analyses are used to calculate accumulation rates along a 100 km across-flow profile in West Antarctica. Accumulation rates are shown to be highly variable over short distances. Elevation measurements from global positioning system surveys show that accumulation rates derived from shallow horizons correlate well with surface undulations, which implies that wind redistribution of snow is the leading cause of this variability. Temporal changes in accumulation rate over 25–185 year intervals are smoothed to along-track length scales comparable to surface undulations in order to identify trends in accumulation that are likely related to changes in climate. Results show that accumulation rates along this profile have decreased in recent decades, which is consistent with core-derived time series of annual accumulation rates measured at the two ends of the radar profile. These results suggest that temporal variability observed in accumulation-rate records from ice cores and GPR profiles can be obscured by spatial influences, although it is possible to resolve temporal signals if the effects of local topography and ice flow are quantified and removed.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2004-06-01

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  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

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